1903 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Peyke Iran reports that Journalist and human rights activist Abolfazl Abedini has been severely beaten in Karoun Prison.
Abedini has been arrested twice since the 2009 elections and was sentenced this spring to 11 years in prison.
1900 GMT: The US Detainee. Sarah Shourd, released earlier this week from Evin Prison on a guarantee of $500,000 bail, has left Oman for the US.
1750 GMT: The Conservative Reaction Begins. Alef has responded to the Ahmadinejad statement: both the President and his Ministers are accountable to the Parliament, and that Parliament has the authority to censure a Minister and impeach if necessary.
1620 GMT: Parliament Hits Back. Lots of chatter about President Ahmadinejad's bold claim that he rules, not the Iranian Parliament.
So far, Ahmadinejad's conservative challengers have held their tongues, but Ali Larijani's Khabar Online features reformist MPs denouncing the statement. Alireza Tabesh asserted that a division of powers is a feature of the modern world, preventing dictatorship and guaranteeing democracy. Nasrollah Torabi argues that ignoring the Majlis is equal to elimination of Republicanism in Iran. Mohsen Kouhkan advises the government not to escalate conflicts with Majlis, especially after the Supreme Leader insisted on unity.
1620 GMT: We've covered the dramatic news of Mehdi Karroubi's letter to Hashemi Rafsanjani, calling for pressure on the Supreme Leader to take control of Iran's repressive and corrupted institutions, in a separate entry.
1525 GMT: President Says, "I Rule". Lots of chatter about an Ahmadinejad interview with Iran newspaper, in which the President supposedly said he was the head of affairs, not the Iranian Parliament.
Vice President Hamid Baghaei, according to Khabar Online, goes even farther, working off Ahmadinejad's grand declaration on national television on Friday (see 0945 GMT): "Ahmadinejad is the modern day Cyrus the Great".
If these reports are true, I am going to be looking for tomorrow's response from Speaker of Parliament Ali Larijani and/or his Parliamentary allies like Ahmad Tavakoli and Ali Motahari.
1305 GMT: Gasoline Squeeze (All is Well Edition). Minister of Oil Masoud Mirkazemi has put out the optimistic declaration that Iran has halted placing orders for gasoline purchase from abroad as it has begun increasing its domestic production.
Mirkazemi declared that Iran will soon increase its gasoline output by one million liters per day. He confirmed --- as we noted on EA yesterday --- that Iran began gasoline production in six of its petrochemical units last month.
"We have not placed an order for the purchase of gasoline for one month. The country's gasoline current gasoline production has increased to 66.5 million liters per day from the previous 44 million liters per day," Mirkazemi added. The Iranian government is not concerned about a shortage of gasoline, because imports were simply to boost the country's strategic reserves.
Sorry, Minister, I'm not buying it. The imports are being halted not out of choice; they have been curtailed by sanctions and pressure on exporters to Iran. And suspending export production in petrochemical plants to try and cover the shortfall is not a sign of Tehran's gasoline strength.
Observers in Tehran have confirmed to EA that lines for gasoline were quite long earlier this month, although they have eased in recent days.
1255 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. The Court of Appeals has upheld the 8 1/2-year sentence of student activist Majid Tavakoli, arrested on 7 December.
The lawyer of human rights activist Shiva Nazar Ahari says she has been sentenced to six years, to be served in Eizeh prison in Khuzestan province. Nazar Ahari was released on $500,000 bail earlier this month after reportedly facing a possible death sentence for "mohareb" (war against God).
The sentence will be appealed.
The sister of detained journalist Abdolreza Tajik, who has been repeatedly summoned for questioning in recent months, has been called again to court in Evin Prison, interrogated, charged, then released on bail.
(hat tip to EA readers who got this to us, despite problems with Comments today)
1150 GMT: Ahmadinejad & The Issue of Rights. Ahead of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to New York, Iranian human rights activists have held a press conference in the city.
Nobel Prize laureate and attorney Shirin Ebadi warned that the human rights situation in Iran is deteriorating, particularly for journalists and civil society activists considered political prisoners: "If Mr. Ahmadinjad claims that Iran is a free country, he should let Physicians Without Borders go to Iran and visit the prisoners in bad health condition."
1145 GMT: The Regime's Blockade. An official with Mehdi Karroubi's Etemade Melli party says that all visits to Karroubi have been stopped by authorities "until further notice".
1125 GMT: Academic Corner. Five students of Mazandaran University and Babol Noshiravani University of Technology have been expelled for political activism.
1115 GMT: Political Prisoner Watch. Zakaria Abbasifar, journalist and Secretary General of Kermanshah’s Democratic Party, has been sentenced to six months in prison.
0950 GMT: From the Opposition Side. The Week in Green features an interview with Fatemeh Haghighatjoo, activist and former member of Parliament, about reformism and the Green Movement in the context of events going back to the election of President Mohammad Khatami in 1997.
0945 GMT: Ahmadinejad's Foreign Policy (King Cyrus Edition). Meanwhile, Press TV pays tribute by running a lengthy extract from the President's Friday night nationally-televised speech under the headline, "When You Are Honest, You Have No Fear".
That assurance is backed up by Ahmadinejad's invocation of the legendary Persian monarch Cyrus to talk about Iran, the US, and the Middle East 2500 years later:
Now let's go to the UN issue. Some people say Cyrus was a prophet. We don't say so. We just say that he was a good person. When we celebrate him, this isn't nationalism. He was just an outstanding character who did positive work for humanity, but part of the fact is that he was an Iranian. The second point is we are not in any way backing monarchies. The Qajars and the Pahlavis left us ashamed and gave a wrong impression of us to the rest of the world.
It also doesn't mean that during the rule of Cyrus there were no wrongs. We believe that the Islamic Republic is the best in the world and it has to dispense justice and take care of spirituality, but when you take into account the extent of the system, wrongs are committed.
Now you look at an official, anybody in the world, and they think they have reached the greatest heights, but a monotheistic person from this land has risen up and says there is no end to the rule of justice. In those days Iran was the only power in the world, and they conquered Babylon. But once he becomes the conqueror, injustice and aggression is outlawed. This is very important.
Now let's compare this. Cyrus goes to Iraq and frees the people of Babylon without bloodshed, without destruction of property, without any damage to infrastructure and orders the abolishment of slavery and cruelty toward people and allows people to worship God the way they please in complete freedom.
Now we come to 2001 and 2002, 2003, the start of the new third millennium. 2001 to 2010 has been declared the decade of peace by the UN. However, the United States and its friend Britain come along and say there was a dictator in Iraq and he enslaved his people and we are going to free the Iraqi people. They came to Afghanistan and what happened. Now all the politicians in the world have reached the conclusion that there are two types of management: one is in the US, the other one is in Iran. They question what Iranian management is like. If Iran wants to take care of management, how would Iran do it? We say, this is how we do it, this is the symbol of our thought, this goes back way before Islam. It is from 2500 years ago and it was furnished with Islam, the Holy Qur'an, and the Imams. Our understanding of justice has expanded greatly. This is what we started with. Look how amazing it is. This is how it started.
0930 GMT: Ahmadinejad's Foreign Policy. The President has met his Syrian counterpart, Bashir al-Assad, in Damascus.
Beyond the symbolic importance for Ahmadinejad of Iran's regional ties, no real significance in the statements. The Iranian President denounced direct talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, whle al-Assad paid lip service to "strategic" Iran-Syria relations and said enhanced cooperation could further bonds in the Islamic world.
0610 GMT: You have to give credit to the President: even if he is in the midst of political and economic turmoil at home, he's very successful in making himself the centre of attention.
Last night, as he prepared to go to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly, Ahmadinejad gave a nationally-televised speech. He restated favourite themes --- Iran will stand tough against the United States and the "West", Washington has been a negative influence in the Middle East and around the world, the International Atomic Energy Agency is a puppet for Western masters when it comes to Iran's nuclear programme --- after many Iranians had turned out in the streets throughout Friday to protest the "Koran burning" in the US.
And the American media are lining up to do their part. NBC News gave the Iranian President a brief, centre-stage appearance with its two-dimensional interview, but this will be dwarfed this week as Ahmadinejad gets hour-long slots with the US Public Broadcasting Service (Charlie Rose) and CNN (Larry King). The Iranian President has already run circles around both interviewers, so expect more political pantomime as they ask provocative but usually shallow questions that Ahmadinejad swats away.
The bigger issue --- beyond nuclear weapons and the Holocaust --- for these US questioners should be the situation inside Iran. And full credit here to one report that should be noticed by the interviewers. Robert Zeliger, writing for the Public Broadcasting Service, picks up the story --- which has moved from EA and Tehran Bureau to Reuters to Radio Free Europe to the Associated Press --- "Divisions Emerge Among Iran's Conservatives: As Iran's economy struggles with sanctions over its nuclear program, evidence of cracks among its political hard-liners is appearing."